Didn’t I tell you there were some great things happening this week? Well, this is one of them! Paula Daly, author of Just What Kind of Mother Are You? and Keep Your Friends Close has let me interview her again. I had the pleasure of interviewing Paula previously after her first novel, Just What Kind of Mother Are You? was published. Now, she has let me interview her yet again, so thank you, Paula, for being so generous with Books&Reviews (now Bodies in the Library)!
1. Where did the idea for Keep Your Friends Close come from?
I was having dinner with a friend who had been unlucky in love and she was complaining of the fact that she found it hard to meet someone. Without really thinking, I replied, “You don’t have any problem meeting someone, it’s snaring them that’s your trouble.”
Then I started to think about all the ruthless, driven women I’ve known, and the lengths that they would go to snare a man.
And then I thought – what if such a woman set her sights on my husband and I was powerless to stop her?
2. Eve is the quintessential femme fatale. Are you a fan of film noir?
Not particularly. But I am a fan of strong, complicated villains who push the hero to their absolute limits. If the villain is more powerful, cleverer, more ruthless than the hero, so much the better.
A story is only as good as its bad guy.
3. Being a femme fatale, Eve deserves the ending you gave her, but did you think of letting evil triumph?
No. But I did want you to champion Eve. Just as I want you to dislike Natty – our protagonist, on occasion. I want to blur the boundaries between good and bad and for the reader to not always like Natty, but to understand why she does things. And the same goes for Eve.
4. I felt Eve’s conquest of Sean was only possible because Natty and he were having sex “problems”. Did you want to confine their marital problems only to their sexual lives? Why/ Why not?
The lack of sex in Sean and Natty’s life was a symptom of a much bigger problem – the fact that Sean had become invisible to Natty. She was focused on the other stuff – the children and their hotel business. This was intentional because it is how a lot of us become when balancing work and kids, and so I wanted to highlight it.
The fact that Eve was able to woo Sean so easily with the promise of sex and attention was also intentional. I have known many couples break up just because one person receives what simply amounts to flattery from another. They go willingly and easily just because they have been so starved of affection for so long. We like to think we’re more complicated than that, but experience tells me we’re not.
5. Speaking of which, your characters are complex thanks to your inclusion of their sexual lives in the narrative, not something that comes up too often even nowadays. Also, Eve and Sean’s first sexual encounter makes one steamy scene! How did you confront the writing of this part of our lives and – particularly – that scene?
You’re right. Traditionally, thrillers have been written by men and they shy away from sex scenes. And rightly so, because they can be clumsy. But if sex is part of the motivation of a character then I think there’s a place for it. With regards to the writing of them, it is so much easier to write sex from the villain’s point of view. If it was from the hero’s point of view, then people would assume it was me in those scenes! And I’m far too prudish and self-conscious to let them think that!